Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Interesting Facts About Hot-Air Balloons and the 19th Hor-Air Balloon Festival

It’s that time of the year again and everyone’s excited to wake up so early in the morning despite the chilly morning climate. That is, for those who want to witness uniquely designed hot-air balloons lifting off from the grounds of Omni Aviation Complex. Before you head to the 19th Hot-Air Balloon Festival in Pampanga, however, arm yourself with these interesting and fun facts about hot-air balloons and the festival itself.

Hot-air balloon facts

  • The hot-air balloon was invented by French brothers, Joseph-Michel and Jacques-√Čtienne Montgolfier on December 14, 1782.

  • The first flight took place on September 19, 1783 with a sheep, a duck and a rooster. The flight took only 8 minutes.

  • The first manned flight happened on November 21, 1783 in Paris, France. The balloon flew for 23 minutes and with the span of 5.5 miles.

  • The hot-air balloon was invented after discovering that a fabric bag will rise if filled with hot air.

  • Only licensed pilots can fly a hot-air balloon.

  • Hot-air balloons fly mainly because of science and physics. No motor or machine whatsoever.

  • The traditional shape of the hot-air balloon is called the inverted teardrop. New shapes and designs were introduced in mid-1970s.

  • Hot-air ballooning-related accidents are very rare. There was only a case in 1984 wherein the pilot suffered from a broken arm and leg due to bad landing.

  • A hot-air balloon can carry up to 10 people only, depending on the size of the balloon. The smallest hot-air balloon is called the cloud hopper.

  • Balloon baskets are usually made of rattan or wicker because these materials are light yet strong and durable. Baskets are either triangular or rectangular in shape.

  • A hot-air balloon flight is not possible when it is raining. The hot temperature inside the balloon can possibly bring the rainwater into boiling temperature thereby damaging the balloon fabric. The temperature inside the balloon is kept at 120 degrees Celsius and below.

  • Balloons, which are also called envelopes, is made from nylon. The melting point of nylon is 230 degrees Celsius.

  • The mouth of the balloon or the part nearest the burner is made from fire-resistant material. Nomex is most commonly used.

  • Hot-air balloon flights are constantly being followed by a chase crew. The chase vehicle follows the balloon wherever it goes.

Hot-air balloon festival facts

  • The Philippine International Hot-Air Balloon Festival is the longest-running hot-air balloon festival in Asia. Other festivals held in Asia include Thailand, Taiwan, and Malaysia.

  • At the festival, hot-air balloons will be flown as early as 6am. Did you know that hot-air balloons are very sensitive to the heat? Yes, long exposures to the sunlight may cause the balloon to burst.

  • The 19th Philippine Hot-Air Balloon Festival was founded in 1994, making 2015 its 21st anniversary. However, the festival has been cancelled twice (1999 and 2014) due to financial difficulties.

  • The 2014 festival was not organized by the PIHABF (Philippine International Hot-Air Balloon Foundation), but by  Pilipinas International Balloon Festival, Inc. (PIBF) and Arts, Culture and Tourism Office of Pampanga (ACTO).

  • The very first festival was participated by 21 balloon pilots from 10 countries. The Philippines has one entry.

  • The festival is held on weekends closest to the Valentine’s Day to celebrate the birthday of Captain Joy Roa, the first Filipino hot-air balloon pilot.

  • Every year, while the sound system is playing the National Anthem, there is a mini show wherein a person in parachute carrying the Philippine flag will descend from the sky. This is called the Philippine Flag Jump.

  • The expected attendance this year is 100,000 with 300,000 people on each fiesta day.

  • Back in 2010, a general admission ticket is sold for ₱150 each. In this year’s festival, each ticket retails at ₱300.

  • The admission ticket sales are used in sending less-fortunate students in aviation schools. So, not only you get to enjoy the parade of vividly colored balloons, but also help to educate children who want to be pilots someday.

Interesting, right? The next time you see a hot-air balloon, you will remember these juicy details. Wait. Knowing how safe a hot-air balloon ride is, why not ride one? It is February and chilly, and what better way to enjoy the cold weather than to be one with it?

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